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Halfords' in-store IT investment continues

Bikes and car parts retailer Halfords is investing in technology to help its staff serve customers as efficiently as possible.

CEO Matt Davies is leading a strategy to ensure Halfords Retail has stable platforms and flexible IT systems that can improve its customer service offering, as part of an ongoing in-store transformational programme being undertaken across the business's UK and Ireland estate.

The 'Getting into Gear' campaign entails various system and infrastructure changes, which has included the introduction of new chip & PIN pads in more than 300 stores and the implementation of a product information management system onto its website, which now provides the business with a centralised tool for storing and distributing customer-facing product data.

This week, the retailer announced that is has appointed retail technology vendor Fujitsu on a three-year contract to provide ongoing IT maintenance and support for its 465 stores across the UK and Ireland.

As Halfords undertakes a review of its IT suppliers with an aim to significantly reduce to a smaller set of strategic relationships, it has begun a partnership with Fujitsu that could lead to further projects in due course.

Anna Barsby, CIO at Halfords, commented: "Providing a strong IT maintenance service to our colleagues in store enables them to deliver great service to our customers.

"Fujitsu was a natural choice, as a partner with tried and tested credentials which would strive to help us continuously improve the way we run our business. Beyond this contract, we're talking to Fujitsu about a number of future projects and are looking forward to welcoming them on board as one of our strategic partners."

Halfords will report preliminary annual results on 22 May, following an encouraging half-year results announcement in November, which showed that like-for-like retail revenues were up 7.7% year on year. Meanwhile, pre-tax profits rose 5.2% to £44.6 million on the back of total sales of £490.6 million, suggesting that the company's focus on IT and digital investment is starting to pay off.

As well as placing investment in-store, Halfords has been looking to update its eCommerce offering in recent months, with the latest moves revolving around social media and personalisation of customers' online accounts.

In its most recent trading statement, covering the 15 weeks to 10 January 2014, Halfords said that online retail sales grew by 13.8% year on year, with eCommerce representing a record 11.7% of total retail sales during the period. 

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